The Book of Matthew

Friday: Fasting From Things

Matthew 6:16-18 In this week’s lessons, we learn what Jesus said about fasting, and consider its implications for us today.
Theme
Fasting from Things

Sometimes, our fasting will lead us away from such things as entertainment, perhaps from television. This was the experience of David Wilkerson, whose story is told in the best-selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade. Wilkerson had been the pastor of a small Assemblies of God church in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, but although the church had grown and the congregation had been able to erect several new buildings, the pastor himself was restless. One night as he sat watching the “late show” on television, the idea came to him that he might profit from spending the time he usually spent watching television, praying. In other words, he might fast from television and then see what happened.

Immediately a number of objections occurred to him. He was tired at night. He needed the relaxation. It was good for him to be in touch with the things that most people were seeing and talking about. But these were not entirely convincing, so he prayed, “Jesus, I need some help in deciding this thing, so here’s what I’m asking you. I’m going to put an ad for that set in the paper. If you’re behind this idea, let a buyer appear right away. Let him appear within an hour… within half an hour… after the paper gets on the streets.”

His wife was not very impressed with the idea when he told her about it the next morning, but he put the ad in the paper anyway. It was a humorous scene the next day after the paper appeared. Wilkerson sat on the couch with the TV set on one side, his wife and children on the other, and the clock and the telephone before him. After twenty-five minutes, just as he was saying, “Well, Gwen, it looks like you’re right. I guess I won’t have to…” the telephone rang.

“Do you have a TV set for sale?” a man’s voice asked.

“That’s right. An RCA in good condition. Nineteen-inch screen, two years old.”

“How much do you want for it?”

“One hundred dollars,” Wilkerson said quickly.

“I’ll take it,” was the reply. “Have it ready in fifteen minutes. I’ll bring you the money.”

Well, that was the beginning. Out of the times of prayer that followed, David Wilkerson was directed by God to the plight of the teenage gang members in the heart of New York City. Out of his efforts to help them came a work that God has blessed and is continuing to bless not only in New York but also in many other cities.

I do not know how all of this will apply to you. You may be in a regular Bible study, or not. You may not watch television or you may. You may fast from food. But whatever your daily routine or habits, there are undoubtedly things that you may want to lay aside temporarily in order to spend time with God. Probably you will not tell people about it. But you should do it. For as you do, you will have the promise of Jesus that the Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

Study Questions
  1. Review the story of David Wilkerson. What did he give up (not only the particular object, but also what it represented)? What objections against doing this did he raise in his own mind?
  2. Note that in the story, in was not simply a matter of removing something. What did he put in its place? What were the results of this change?
Application

Application: What might the Lord be impressing upon you to give up, at least for a period of time, in order to devote more time to Bible study, prayer, or other spiritual activity?

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Torn Hearts, Torn Garments.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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